I had dinner at green bamboo. The results showed flaws, but also promise. I will definitely make return visit for further exploration.
We didn't order any vietnamese standards - no pho, no spring rolls, no bun, no sandwiches, so I can't comment on those. the grilled meat with lettuce leaves thing and fried spring rolls at the next table looked quite servicable. next trip...
We had a vietnamese chicken salad. the "small" was quite large, coming on a standard ovoid plate that you would get an entree on. the dish was well-conceived, made by a hand who seem interested in what they were making. but ingredients were acceptable, but not first rate. chicken, shredded cabbage and onion, fresh mint. no basil, no chili, and the mint was sparse and a little tired. the fish sauce was, well, fish sauce. not to sweet or source or fishy, just fine... I think this dish is one where we needed to, as Jim says, to get the waiter not to tell the cook we were gweilo... I suspect we would have gotten a more strongly spiced and flavored salad. It really cried out for a chopped green chili. Even with my criticisms listed above, it was delicious, just not earth-shaking.
next we had the water spinach, which was again fine, but not outstanding. I think there was a higher stem-leaf ration than in water spinach I've had elsewhere - again could this be a sign that someone is scrimping on ingredients? It was suitably garlicy, and perhaps a tad overcooked for my taste - although water spinach does have a tendency to go a bit mushy. We discussed whether, perhaps, the dish had had butter added - there was a box of butter delivered as we were going out. A manifestation of the French influence on vietnamese food. I must note, at 6.95 it seems to be in a slightly lower price range than water spinach at a higher-end chinese place, where it is often a "premium" vegetable dish, so perhaps I should take that into consideration.
Finally, we had a dish "shrimps fried in butter with pepper and onions". these were like nothing I'd ever had before. 8 large shrimps (deheaded, but with shells and legs still attached - they must have headed them for the gweilo's) were butterflied in the shell, flash fried crisp (a la salt and pepper shrimp...) and then stir fried (I think) with scallions and a bit of butter. They were not too greasy, and had just the right hint of butter flavor. Try to image butter flavored salt and pepper shrimp. I'm guessing at how this dish was actually made. the shells, legs, and tails were crisp fried enough to be quite tasty, and with a healthy salt and pepper coating, were quite delicious. But the insides, were not overcooked, and were delicious too. They shrimp were served on a bed of cabbage like many other fried foods, which we presumed was for grease catching, not eating. This dish definitely was worth having again, and makes me believe that other treasures lurk hidden in the menu.
total check for the above was around 20$.
service was helpful and accomadating when asked, but disappeared for long periods. we sat for an interminable time with nobody to clear, ask if we wanted anything else, or get the check. I like leisurely European style dinners, but it would have been nice to have the empty dirty dishes out from under my elbows. cleanliness wise, its like the cleaner economy restaurants in chinatown... not dirty, but it doesn't sparkle either...
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